Vice operator jailed for 21 months and fined $36,000

SINGAPORE - A vice operator amassed some $250,000 in earnings over five years, a court heard.

Soh Pang Hwee, 51, who was arrested at Changi Airport on Aug 6, 2016, was sentenced to 21 months' jail and fined $36,000 on Thursday (Feb 22).

He had admitted to 12 of 28 charges of living off the earnings of prostitution, receiving, harbouring and procuring Thai prostitutes around June and July 2016. Seven Thai women in their 20s and 30s worked for him.

Investigations showed that Soh started to run his vice businesses in Geylang in 2011. He would recruit Thai women through various Thai agents to come here and work as prostitutes for him. 

He would have verbal contracts with each of the prostitutes to provide sexual services to 40 to 60 customers; and provide them with free food and lodging.

After fulfilling the contractual quota, the prostitutes could keep all their earnings but would have to pay him $15 daily for food and lodging.

In 2015, he rented a room in Joo Chiat Terrace to house the prostitutes.

In April 2016, he recruited Ong Kok Boon, now 44, to help him in the operation. He paid him $80 to $100 daily to ferry the prostitutes and collect their earnings. Ong would also station himself near a house in Jalan Molek, off Lorong 24 Geylang, to look out for police and ensure the safety of the prostitutes.

The prosecution said Soh collected at least $4,600 from the seven prostitutes. Further investigations showed he had amassed some $250,000 in earnings in the course of running his vice operations for five years.

Soh's lawyer Anil Singh Sandhu said in mitigation that his client was deeply remorseful and had cooperated with the authorities in their investigation. He said his client's Thai wife had just given birth to a baby girl two months ago, and successfully applied for his client to defer sentence until March 12.

Soh could have been jailed for up to five years and/or fined up to $10,000 on each charge.